Wanda Gene's Musings on Life, Love and Loving the Quilting Life!

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Little Andie's Getting to Be a Big Boy!

Hello Everybody!

Here is what my cute and cuddly puppy Andie has been up to lately (well....some of it, anyway).  This is Andie de-constructing one of those shower skin buffers.

Andie has lost his cottony puppy fluff that he had just a few weeks ago and his coat is becoming very silk-like.  His short puppy muzzle is being replaced by the longer one that is characteristic of German Shepherd Dogs.  He is adding lots of muscle to the soft little puppy body that was his when we got him.  One ear stands up consistently and the other occasionally.  And he is getting so hard to lift!!

Here Andie is standing next to a sofa and I hope it provides a some frame of reference.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Finally a Little Quilting......It's Been So Long!

Hi You'All,

I finally sat down in my new sewing room to do just a little something quilty.  Wow, have the last few months been busy and exhausting.  And most of all I have missed quilting.  So I just began to sew the binding on my little solids quilt with the big hand quilting stitches.

Here are a few images from the beach scene painted on the wall of my sewing room:

Here is a portion of my newly organized quilting closet:

I love looking at my closet so much that I originally decided to remove the sliding mirrored doors....but ultimately changed my mind in order to prevent sun-fading of my fabric.  It is really inspiring to look at what I have to work with whenever I go in this room....soon I hope that it will be everyday, all day long!

Besides doing our move (complicated), I have been finding a group home for my 86 year old mother who can no longer live by herself.  We found a really great one, a 6 resident home where her special needs caused by macular degeneration will be met.  Her meds will be dispensed, meals prepared and served family-style, and she will no longer be socially isolated.  The staff is friendly and caring.

We are really pleased that she has been looking forward to this and is now enjoying her new home.  If any of you ladies are going through this with your elderly loved ones, please send me an e-mail and I can tell you more about my experience.

Well, 'nuff said for now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Classes with Bonnie Hunter

Hi Folks--

I just registered for some classes at Road to California in Ontario, CA in January and I am so thrilled to get classes with Bonnie Hunter.  I follow her blog and have been using her scrap organization system for almost three years.  I have made about a half a dozen of her designs and have plans to make more....maybe all of them!  I am taking the Star Struck class (that was on my to-do list anyway) and Jared Takes a Wife.  These were not my first choices (Bonnie is teaching several other classes), because some were already closed.

I have already signed up to be a teacher's helper in one of the classes.  Should be fun!  You know, I can follow written directions just fine, but the workshop experience is exciting and inspiring.  I love to look at what my fellow quilters in class are doing for their interpretation of the design.  Every quilt is unique in its own way.

I am also very excited about meeting Bonnie for the first time.  Since I live in the West, I have not had that opportunity in the past, so when I read that she was coming to California, I jumped at the chance. 

DH Jerry's Mom lives nearby, so I also have a place to stay.  I can't ask for more convenience than that!

I have been to Road2ca several times and it one of the major events in the quilting world.  If you ever get a chance to go, you won't be sorry!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can!

Hi Folks,

You know, this post is hard to write, not because I am sad now, but how do I explain these weeks lost from posting?

Things have been happening in my life that have been consuming every minute of my days and sometimes my nights...I am definitely coping with a sleep deficit.

After Yeager died so suddenly and unexpectedly, I had a big empty place in my heart and life.  I am not given to depression for no reason, but you can understand that I did have a reason.

I have thrown myself into packing (on one end) and unpacking (on the other end).  It is exhausting work, requiring probably more that the proverbial 10,000 steps a day that we are supposed to be getting.   Very little quilting unless you count organizing my future sewing room, which I love!

Here is what have been going through lately:

  • Packing, unpacking, organizing the new house.
  • Taking care of my 86 year old mother (not total care, just finances, groceries, doctor appts, etc.
  • Reading the book, One Second After, which scared the @#$%^ out of me!
  • Having an impossibly slow internet connection when in Simi and not always having any connection at all.
  • Trying to find a suitable group home in Simi Valley for the above mentioned Mother who will be moving there also so I can continue to do for her.  And they need to have a very low monthly fee.  (They all charge more than her SS check).
  • Having bariatric surgery on June 29th.  Am I crazy or just out of my mind?  But I have been working on this since December, and finally my insurance approved my Realize lap band, so I went forward.  Between the pre-surgical diet and after surgery, I am losing enough to already feel better!  This is a great cheerer-upper!
  • Last but not least, we came back to Tucson Saturday with a new German Shepherd puppy!  His name is Andie (pronounced Ahn'-dee)  He is 12 weeks old and is so cute and precious!  Within 24 hours he knew his name and  now comes when called.  We are now house-training him.  Successes: about 2/3,Messes: about 1/3.  Oh, well, it takes time. But not too long...our puppies have usually taken about 10 days.  It's like the day you think he's never going to get it, something just clicks and,  bingo, you've got a house-trained puppy. 

We think it was mutual love at first sight.

I will always love and miss Yeager and my other  dogs over the years, but this new pup is helping to fill that big hole in my heart.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thanks for the Kind Words

Hello everybody,

I just want to express my thanks for the supportive comments, thoughts, and prayers in response to the passing of my dear beloved German Shepherd Dog, Yeager.

All of us whose lives are enriched by the love and companionship of our animals know that there is a price to pay for the goodness that they bring us.  And that price is that we lose them all too soon.

I got the nicest personally written sympathy card from the vet.  Yes, it was so nice, but I still just fell apart after reading it.  DH Jerry was in Simi Valley after taking a trailer load of boxes to the new house, so I was all alone.  I called him and we talked about some of the things that Yeager did with us, and afterward I felt strengthened and calmed.

I am going to the vet hospital to pick up Yeager's cremated ashes today.  Yes, another tough day.  But I'll get through it.

After the tears are shed, there is one thing that I know.  Our beloved companions are worth the price that we must pay.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Life Well Lived

Yeager, you always did manage to bring a smile to my face.  We sure did pack a lot of adventures together into just seven short years. I know that you would want me to smile again....maybe tomorrow.  Just not today.

                                                               Yeager, 2003 to 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'm a Packing Maniac!!

Hey Guys--

We have started packing for the next trip to Simi.  Jerry bought an enclosed trailer to tow with our truck and we are going to just fill it full of our stuff....things that we can do without for at least a month or so.

Isn't it amazing how much stuff you can accumulate in 16 years of living in one house?  But most of it will be used sooner or later so we kind of need to keep it.

I have old sewing patterns...I call it my COLLECTION...you see, that justifies keeping something that serves no serious purpose.  I just love them, sort of like my Superman comic collection when I was ten years old.  Oh, how I wish I still had those comics!  And not at all because they are now worth some real cash.  But my sewing patterns will never be worth anything to anyone but me.

I have a couple of dozen really big plastic bins of fabric, sorted lovingly by color or type, and folded unimformly so that they look so beautiful!  I am really compulsive about sorting my fabric for maximum eye candy.  Unfortunately, it does take away from the time actually making something out of the fabric.  Oh, well.  Another COLLECTION!

And then the quilting magazines, who could part with even one?  It might be just the one to inspire my next quilt.

Speaking of my next quilt....its theme is going to be DOCTOR WHO!  If you don't know about Britain's most popular TV show... hey, check it out on BBC America.  You just might become a hopeless fan girl like me!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mothers Day to Remember Always!

Hi to All--

We had the best Mothers Day party yesterday at the Simi Valley house.  Even though we haven't moved in yet, and all the rooms are empty except for a sofa that the sellers left, that did not stop us from having a great time, great food, and the best company: my boys and their families!

We had ribs, chicken, Polish sausage, baked beans, corn on the cob, salad, guacamole and chips, and oh, yeah, a carrot cake that was heavenly!

While the grown-ups visited and looked at the new house and yard, Jonah and Danny basically went wild, running, playing, wrestling, and sliding down the playground playground slide.

Here is DDIL Sherry with baby Miles, who is now 11 lbs. and six months old.

I have to show you  the darling Mothers Day present that Jeff, Sherry, Miles and Jonah gave me.  (Sherry, however, gets all the credit for picking it out, and she has a great eye for the wonderful and unusual.)

The most beautiful measuring spoons and cups I have ever seen!  Thanks, you guys.

Lately, I have been appliqueing the handles and my little Teapotz wallhanging.  I have been trying all different methods of applique to see what I like the best.  To my complete surprise, needle-turn is the front runner.


I felt like all thumbs when I first started to do needle-turn.  But guess what?  By the time I was on the second one, it got much easier!  I just cut a rectangle big enough for the handle I was making.  I machine basted the edge next to the teapot under 1/4".  I drew the handle on the rectangle and machine basted it to the teapot. 
Trimming as I went along, I turned the edge under and hand stitched it down.

I have temporarily set up my sewing machine in one of the bedrooms that has a built-in desk.  I call it the Betty Boop room, for obvious reasons:

The former owner is a talented artist, who paints on a variety of surfaces, including walls!  She left us wall paintings all over the house and even on the stucco exterior.  More of her art will be showing up on future posts.

I hope all you mothers out there had a great day yesterday.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

New House Bliss!!!

Hi Everybody,

I know that I haven't posted for a while, and I feel guilty about it every time it comes to mind, but you know it isn't every day that my fondest dream comes true.  Yes, my dream of having a house in glorious Southern Cal and living the good life surrounded by lush greenery is now real..

You know that house that I posted about eight months ago., the one where the sellers had to find their next house before selling theirs to us?  They finally found their house!  Even after we received the news, I wouldn't really let myself believe our good fortune until the day escrow closed.  But it did....on April 21.

Since then we have been Simi Valley working on the house, replacing light bulbs with energy efficient ones, reinforcing closet shelves, and getting bids on the workshop that Jerry wants out back.  The workshop is the only major project for now.

I have been getting some piecing done on my plaid Smokey Mountain Stars just to keep from going into withdrawal....that would be no fun, to be in paradise but not able to sew.

I'll keep you posted on when we get to actually move, but in the meantime we will be visiting often.  And getting to see the grandkids every time we come out.


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Making Two Quilts at a Time....Or a Two-fer!

Hi Everybody--

This is what has been up on my design wall recently.  It is the start of what will be a pair of go-together (no, not matching...I detest and reject that whole concept when it comes to my quilting) quilts for a set of twin beds that I have.


The bedroom furniture is very traditional, 80 years old and from Kentucky.  I know these specific details because the furniture was bought new by my grandparents shortly after they were married.  I'm looking forward to seeing the finished quilts in plaids and stripes from recycled men's shirts on these beds.

These are the units that I still have to draw on.  Oh, the decisions.  Not which pieces look good together, but am I concentrating too much of this particular blue plaid in this sector of the design?  What wonderful decisions to have to make!

The pattern is Smokey Mountain Stars from Bonnie Hunter's quiltville.com.  I wanted to do something fun with all the recycled shirts that I have been acquiring.  Actually, the shirts are taking over my entire house and I need to start using them up in a serious way.

Ergo, the idea of a two-fer!  It uses up twice the fabric as a single quilt.  There are also economies of scale with this approach.  Mostly it is the time saved cutting (cut enough for two quilts, but refold the fabric only as if for one), but also in planning the quilt.

This is the second time that I have made two go-together quilts simultaneously.  A few years ago, when I was making a series of Raggedy-Edge flannel quilts, I made a pair the same size and out of the same large set of about 50 flannel fabrics. They were for my two sons for their birthdays that year.

I did all the cutting first, then started quilting the small quilt sandwichs.  After that, I sorted them into two piles that had roughly about the same makeup of fabrics.  Finally, the two piles were transformed into warm and fuzzy flannel quilts that my boys both love and enjoy.

Keep on Quilting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I've Got a New Toy!!

Hi Everybody,

The other day I stopped at a new quilt shop on my vacation in California and I bought some fork pins, something that I've been hearing about lately, and wanted to give them a go.

These are made by Clover (there may be other brands that I have not seen) and they were fairly pricey at $9.80 for a very small package.... not sure how many were in the package because I threw away the wrapping.

I was surprised just how good they are for keeping nested seams together until you can get them sewn down.
I'm telling you, the points just come together effortlessly.

When sewing the seam, I set the machine for needle down.  I sew within one or two stitches of the first tine of the fork pin, then turn the handwheel to sew over the tine to the center.  With needle down, raise the presser foot and remove the fork pin.

PLEASE....PLEASE, promise me you won't sew over these or any other pins with pedal power.  You will be sorry....ask me how I know!  One careful stitch at a time with the handweel is fine. 

These little tools are "sew" handy!
(Not affiliated in any way, just a happy customer)

Happy Quilting,


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Some Finished Pretties!

Hi out there to all quilters or those just thinking about doing some quilting someday--

I haven't spent the entire 3+ weeks slaving over this computer.  (Just seems like it.)  No, I have actually been logging in some time with my other computer--the talented lady Electra.

We have finished three customer quilts together lately.  The first is a quilt destined for the grandson of the lady who made the top.   He lives on a ranch and is receiving the quilt as a high school graduation gift.  I didn't get a whole-quilt pic of it finished, but I do have this one of it on the frame:


Here are two more hot off the quilting frame:

I don't have a very good setup for photographing  my quilts, so I have to prevail upon DH Jerry and our neighbor Hank,  who was over here the other day, to hold up the top edges of the quilts.  (They're tall and can get the quilt high enough up off the floor while I snap the picture.

I have been considering some other setup lately.  I  might use a wall-mount with heavy duty office clamps.  It would be really nice have a photo of every quilt before it leaves my studio.  And I know you like quilt pictures as much as I do!

Another project of mine has been to take screenshots of all my panto patterns for this website and also for a 3-ring binder notebook.  The notebook patterns are 8 1/2 X 11" so they are really easy see in detail.   I'm surprised how many I've accumulated so far!  I just keep seeing more that I want to order, then another, and another....well, you get the idea that I have a hopeless habit for patterns.

Some have that problem with fabric or thread.....Oh, I guess that's me too!


How Did I Get So Busy?

Hi Y'all--

Some days I feel like I'm just chasing in circles, other days I seem to make a little bit of progress.

Most days lately have been somewhere in between but closer to the former than the latter.

First, and foremost, I set out to give my blog a makeover, transforming it with a more up-to-date, more attractive layout, and with added features that make it more like a (TA DA!)  ****WEBSITE!!!****.

I hope you like it.  Me, I am just tickled pink.  I had better be, for all the hours of research, and trying out things that did NOT work, either technically or aesthetically.  I have actually read two books on how to use Blogger.  And I still did not find the answers to all my questions, but did find many answers to questions that I still can't figure out.

Well, I think my best achievement this month was how to put tabbed links to pages on the sidebar.  This leads me to the announcement of the grand opening of WandaGeneQuilts' quilting service web debut!
If you have any questions for me, or just want to register an opinion about the new website, shoot me an e,  or leave a comment.  I love getting both.

Monday, March 1, 2010

SOS Answered!!!

Hello to All--

For the last few days I have been having a problem with my Emma and Electra, my longarm quilting girls, not stitching out nicely.  The curves were flattened and ungraceful.  The tension was also a little off.  I ripped out a whole panto pass on a customer quilt...so depressing.  The problem was intermittent but kept coming back

So I did what every IQ owner does when trouble strikes.  I called Superman!

Actually, I sent an e-mail to Zoltan, the chief engineer of Intelliquilter.  This was Saturday night, not a good time to get sick or have any other type of serious problem.  But anytime is a good time to call for IQ help because support is the greatest!

The very next morning I had an e-mail from Helen Baczynksi, my IQ dealer who, along with her DH Tony,
came to my house in December to install my IQ.  She said that Zoltan had checked my IQ logs that I had downloaded and sent to him.  He could not find a computer malfunction, so there must be a physical cause for my wobblies.

Helen advised me to really clean my rollers, Edgerider wheels and rails.  I had cleaned them what I thought was recently, but I found a lot of black gunk on the wheels and the rollers.  The rails were fine, having been wiped down every day that I quilt.

Guess what?  Helen knows what she's talking about!  Today Emma and Electra have been humming happily.
And I finished that customer's quilt.

If any of you longarm quilters are thinking about adding robotics to your machine, you will be a satisfied customer if you choose to go with the IQ.  I benefit in no way in recommending this company.  I just love my IQ and the great customer service that goes with it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Making of a Quilter

Hello to All!

I come from a time, place, and family that placed quilting in high esteem.  It was my destiny, really.

We were Scottish and English, although I did not know that for many years.  Our family had been here in America since before the Revolution and were shaped by the rich cultural heritage of Appalachia.  We had been here so long that we forgot to teach our children where we had come from.

Both of my grandmothers were quilters, one from Kentucky, one from Ohio.  They lived about 30 miles from one another, but one considered herself a Southerner, and one did not.  They, were, however, united in their passionate love for making quilts.

Each did exquisite work.  Grandma Ferguson did only piecing and paid others to do the quilting for her.  Grandma Smith quilted from A to Z, sometimes for others, and sometimes even for my Grandma Ferguson.
I own and treasure one quilt started by one and finished by the other.

So I always marvel that my very first quilt that I made when I was just 20 years old was inspired, not by my quilting grandmas, but by the great-grandmother of my DH, Jerry.  She was known as Grandma Simones (sounds French but she was German).  She had made a quilt for Jerry when he was born.  She sheared the sheep and carded their wool to make a batting to warm him during the bitter Minnesota winter.  She pieced flannel for the top and then tied it with more wool.  By the time I knew him, nothing was left of this quilt but a few tatters.

I set out to make him new quilt.  It was huge, green, and tied.  It roughly followed a brick-work pattern.  And it was not quite as bad as it sounds.

Eventually, I went on to make quilts for our sons and more quilts for our own beds.  Almost all of these early quilts have worn out and passed out of our lives.

Now I piece with my Bernina 1230, named Erie Mae after Grandma Ferguson, and I quilt with Emma and Electra, my longarm APQS Millenium with IQ, named after Grandma Smith and my great-great Grandma, Electra Spurlock.  I feel their spirits with me, and the spirit of Jerry's great-Grandma.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Complete with Label and Matching Pillowcases.....

Hello to All--

Here are the extra goodies to go with the quilt that I told you about in my last post.

Beverly made this wonderful label, thus placing this quilt into the select group of quilts that actually have labels.

I wonder what percentage of all quilts actually do get labeled.   Do you think 30%? Or even 50%?  I dare say that possibly more than 90% of all quilts, even today, are lacking in this form of documentation that is unique to our
quilting art.

I have gotten better about labeling than I was in the past.  Sometimes a busy life and laziness get the better of me.  I would say that 80 to 90% of my quilts are getting labeled these days.  For 2010 my goal is going to be to catch up on labeling and then to stay current.

Here are the four pillowcases that go with Bernadette's cat-themed quilt.  I plan on taking the whole set to her when I go to California for Easter.

Oh, and I think that I had better make a label for the baby quilt that I made for my three month-old grandson, Miles.  At least I have a good excuse.....at the time I made the quilt, I did not know what his name would be.  That excuse is past its expiration date!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm Quilting Some Cute Kitties and Big Cats!

Hi Everybody--

I have a great quilt top here  made by my DSIL, Beverly.  She pieced, appliqued and embroidered the top for her sister and my other DSIL, Bernadette.  She sent it to me to quilt on Emma, my longarm quilting machine.  This appliqued kitty is the center focal point of the quilt.

These are some of the machine embroidered cats of all kinds that Beverly has placed in smaller blocks that surround the center cat.  It should come as no surprise that Bernadette loves cats!

Beverly's work is exquisite.  I don't do machine embroidery, so I am really in awe of the detail that is captured in these designs.

Beverly also sent me prepared binding, a beautiful label for me to sew on the back, and several really cool matching pillowcases.  The pillowcases are such a great idea.....I know I want to make some for some of my future quilts!

I'll be showing some pics of the pillowcases and the label soon!


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wide Backs--What You Don't Know Can Make You Tear Your Hair Out!

Hi Everybody--

I want to talk about wide backs today....you know, those tempting bolts of cloth in 96", 108", or even 118" wide.

The wide backs that free you from having to piece backs. The wide backs that are wide enough even to please your longarm quilter (she wants your quilt back to be 4" wider than the top on all four sides). The wide back that croons in your ear, "Buy me and spend the time saved by not piecing the back sipping a glass of wine in the bathtub."

If you have never tried a wide back, you need to know the way to prepare the back.

Years ago, I bought a wide back made by a reputable mill and sold by a first-class mail order fabric company. The unfolded back looked like this: / / , instead of this | |. By the time I trimmed the wonkies off of it, there was insufficient fabric for the back of the quilt. I did a little piecing on one corner, but that sort of defeated the whole purpose.

So, preparation starts in the store or on the website before the first cut is made. You have to buy extra fabric for squaring up.

For the fabric to be square the cut edge must be at a 90 degree angle (also called a right angle) to the selvages. If the folded edge is not perfectly parallel to the selvages, then we have a little off-grain problem. The fabric must be re-folded and a new cut edge made at 90 degrees to the selvage.

This is the same principle that applies when cutting our strips across the width of the fabric. If our cut is not at 90 degrees to the fold, we end up with the dreaded V shape when we unfold the strip.

When regular fabric at 45" wide is cut from the bolt and brought home, you might have to square up a little, but it's rarely a big problem.

But think about the wide back. It is folded once, lengthwise, and then again, also lengthwise, to allow it to be rolled onto the bolt. Do you think the factory workers measure and re-measure that second fold every yard or so to make sure that that it is perfectly square with the first fold?
Somehow I doubt it.

What this means for you, the quilter, is that you will need to do some trimming on that wide back. I find that 18" is enough extra fabric when purchasing to allow for trimming. So, if I need 3 yards for my quilt, I buy 3 1/2 yards.

Here is what I do: Wash and lightly press the fabric. Fold in half crosswise so that the selvages meet on both the the right and the left sides. Then fold the two right selvages across to the two left selvages. Carefully adjust the fold so that the back is folded in exact quarters. Everything should line up except the four raw edges, which are probably wildly off kilter. That is the side that I will trim. Use a large square quilting ruler or carpenter's square to establish the line for the cut. I use an acrylic yard-long ruler to make the cut, but even with that I have to cut a bit, move the ruler and then cut some more.

I hope that none of us find that an extra 1/2 yd STILL is not enough to square up that wide back. It has always been enough for me.

If your back is too small after squaring up, there are still a few options:
  1. Add a piece on one side or corner to make it larger.
  2. Use the back for another, smaller quilt.
  3. I can't think of a third one.
I hope that this will help someone out there not to make my mistake that I made with my first wide back!

Happy quilting!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Teapotz Project Has Come Together

Hi Everyone,

Teapotz is done....and on schedule! Yay! I've had a wonderful week focusing on just this project and the weather has certainly cooperated. After all, with a week of pouring rain and 62 MPH wind at times, I would have been blue and bored without a fun quilting project.

You might notice that only a few teapotz have the appliqued handles. That simply wasn't practical to finish in the time I gave myself (I had roughly 5 hours a day to work on this project).
I plan to add them soon after we return home. The quilting will be added as well. I am still thinking about hand quilting verses machine quilting. This would be a nice take-along hand quilting thingy.

I need a name for this quilt. I would entertain any suggestions from those of you who might be reading this blog. I'm thinking of "Betty Lou's got a New Teapot". Come on, help me find the right name.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Day Four

Hi Everybody--

Here is the latest pic from my Teapotz project. I have appliqued a few more handles and am starting to trim up blocks.

It is pouring rain here in Quartzsite. Every night for three nights it rained and the wind has blown hard. Last night was the strongest yet. Other days have been clear and sunny for a few hours in midday, but not today.

Good sewing weather!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Day Three

Hi Everybody!

Here is what I accomplished yesterday on my Quartzsite Quilt Quest. Yes, I finished more Teapotz than the first day. I wonder how many I can get done today?

You will notice that one Teapot has an appliqued handle. They all will need a handle and trimming to size, before each block will be completely finished. Then I will sew them into rows and the rows into a quilt top.

Okay, back to sewing.